By NANCY CZABALA
COLUMBIA — A statewide meeting hosted by the diocesan Office of Black Catholics Nov. 15 at St. Martin de Porres in Columbia attracted close to 70 participants. The meeting, which follows the National Black Catholic Congress, was a opportunity for local black Catholics to converge and discuss the implementation of plans set forth at the national meeting Aug. 28-31.
Catherine Fleming Bruce, director of the diocesan Office of Black Catholics, said, “We had a fantastic meeting with people from all corners of the state.
It was our first opportunity as an office to welcome parishioners from all deaneries.”
According to Bruce the main points of discussion included evangelization, leadership training and youth development, and how to implement plans from the Black Catholic Congress in these areas. “We are striving to make all the pieces — the needs and interests of our parishes — work together,” said Bruce.
Attendees were encouraged to share the challenges they have faced as black Catholics, as well as the plans that have been implemented at their parishes to encourage evangelization. “We used our time together to share ideas and for mutual support,” said Bruce.
The meeting had a strong youth component. Having young people involved helped to create new ideas for getting our youth involved, said Bruce, which would lead to the creation of a broader society of black Catholics in South Carolina — an important goal for the group.
“We are now offering videos and audio tapes from congress, as well as pastoral letters for those interested,” said Bruce. A website has also been created to keep parishioners informed and to encourage participation.
The group is working on creating an Advisory Committee, a network of all parishes, that would provide the organization with additional points of contact and be able to share insights from past experiences.
According to Bruce continuing to grow black leadership was an important topic for all attendees. “We hope to spread a joyful message as much as possible at all levels from around the state,” said Bruce.